Should Britain quit the European Union? Or should it stay?
What should the EU demand from the UK?
Voters will be asked “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?”
From now until the referendum there is going to be a lot of derisive media coverage, media hype, political clatter with mountains of disinformation to say the least.
Before it all gets into top gear here are what I consider to be the main arguments for and against.
At the moment Britain lives the status quo of EU membership.
Now that the empire really is gone and the UK is no longer a financial or military superpower, the question of decline has taken on a melancholic air.
Nostalgia grips the British imagination.
Like Tony Blair, Cameron is still in love with the idea of a globe bestriding, quasi-imperial Britain and it was this that fired British military involvement in Libya as well as his desire (wrecked by Labour) to take action in Syria.
Is it not time for Britain to acknowledge its history by becoming a nation with a responsibility to the Future of all.
On the European side.
It’s a tumultuous times for Europe. In the midst of its biggest ever financial crisis in the form of Greece’s potential default, battling an ongoing migrant catastrophe which has seen thousands of people drown trying to reach European shores.
The truth is that the world at large doesn’t just matter when it comes to international politics its all about TTIP and the TTP the workings of the global economy — in harness with the policies of successive governments — they are going to leave communities shorn of employment and identity.
So lets first put the case for England to say – Yes.
The business community will come out overwhelmingly in favor of continued membership. However unpopular some in business – notably the banks will induce fear of exit. So in reality it will be the economy that will decide the outcome of the Referendum.
The UK now accounts for less than 1 per cent of the world’s population and less than 3 per cent of global income (GDP). Each year that goes by, these numbers shrink a little.
The single market, gives British business access to the entire EU with its 500 million consumers. The EU accounts for nearly 20 per cent of world GDP. The EU, economy is six times the size of British economy.
There are one million Brits living in Spain, 330,000 living in France, and 65,000 in Cyprus. There are also 330,000 in Ireland. If Britain kicked EU citizens out of the UK, the EU would probably retaliate. That could be over a million returning immigrants.
Contrary to what the British think EU membership doesn’t cost much.
England’s annual budget contribution, after taking account of money transferred back to the UK, is £8.3bn. That’s around half a per cent of its GDP, or £130 per person.
The EU is England biggest trading partner, accounting for 52% of its trade a mire £400 bn per year, which far outstrips the estimated £12bn spent (net)on the EU each year.
The Center for Economics and Business Research found that in 2011, 4.2 million jobs in the UK were associated with exports to the EU. This is a massive 13.3% of the UK workforce, and it amounted to an estimated £3,500 per head of the population in 2011.
London, ( although it exists in another dimension to the rest of the country) needs the EU to remain one of the world’s financial centers.
The average age of the European immigrant population in Britain was 34 in 2011, compared with 41 for the native population which leave me at a lost to understand all the moaning about EU immigrants. They are cost-effective since they normally arrive after being educated. And, since most of them are of working age, England does not pay much for their pensions or healthcare, either.
British relationships with the US and the EU have always been separate from one another, especially in connection with the war against terrorism.
A yes vote will have an effect on the future direction of British foreign policy orientating it towards its European neighbors rather than America. It would also have a serious impact on British influence internationally.
Leaving could spell disaster, potentially costing millions in job losses and adverse trade impacts.
A yes vote could see the slow demise of Sterling. It certainly will see the demise UKIP.
Leaving would have a negative impact on foreign investment per person per consumers.
If the British left the EU they will have to pay more for visas, unless they created their own agreements with different countries.
Now the other Option. Out.
A desire to keep foreigners out of Britain is the main reason why the electorate may want to quit the EU entirely.
The free movement of EU member state citizens has resulted in out-of-control immigration into the UK, they claim, with people from poorer EU nations seeking to take advantage of the British health service and welfare payments.
Of course there is the option of out and staying in the single market.
That may be feasible.
After all, Norway has access to the single market without being in the EU.
But there is a big disadvantage:
Norway has to apply all the rules of the single market without any vote on what those rules are. If Britain was in the same position, it really would be subservient to Brussels. Quite apart from the blow to its sovereignty, the rules would be written without taking account of its interests and so could easily harm its citizens.
The two other main examples are Switzerland and Turkey. Unfortunately, they don’t have full access to the market and they still have to follow some of the rules, without a vote on them.
Out means it isn’t part of the CAP.
It will have to renegotiate all of its trade agreements.
Why would any other country feel the need to deal with England directly?
Faced with the rapid, ongoing expansion of the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), among others, even with the USA special relationship it could kiss it ass goodbye. It would be like a feather weight getting into the ring with a heavy weight. Knocked out before the bell rang for round one.
In China the UK is not a big power. In the eyes of the Chinese it is just an old European country apt for travel and study.
It could rely on its membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to ensure access to markets. The snag is that, although the WTO has made progress in opening up trade, it has not secured anything like free trade in manufacturing – let alone services, which account for more than three-quarters of its GDP.
What will The EU Demand?
This is the question no one asking.
The growth of euroscepticism across Europe means the elites won’t be able to bamboozle the people into agreeing more transfers of power to Brussels, as they have done in the past.
Will Britain have to forsake its opt-outs from the Maastricht Treaty 1992
Currently, four states have such opt-outs: Denmark (four opt-outs), Ireland (two opt-outs), Poland (one opt-out) and the United Kingdom(four opt-outs).
If so could Sterling be phased out. Highly unlikely.
The eurosceptic view can be summarised in three phrases:
Our plight is dire.
Attempting to reform the EU is futile.
The prospects outside are golden.
The single market is based on what are known as the “four freedoms”. These were contained in the Treaty of Rome that set up the forerunner to the EU in 1958: the free movement of goods, services, capital and people.
This is one of the most important charters for freedom the world has ever seen.
The eurozone probably won’t rush towards so-called political and fiscal union. Political union is also unnecessary because the main problem with the periphery is one of competitiveness.
Centralising power and giving hand-outs won’t solve that.
The solution, rather, is to restore competitiveness and boost productivity by freeing up markets. This is not a pleasant process, but it is beginning to happen in places such as Greece and Spain.
Will the EU allow a half-way houses that give some access to the single market but without following all the EU’s rules.
Peripheral countries have to solve their own problem.
This list leads to three further questions.
Can Britain win the unanimous agreement of other governments?
Do any of the changes require treaty amendment, which is hard for some other countries to do? And will they persuade British voters to stay in the EU?
The answer to the first is that most of the changes are quite modest, so they should not be too difficult to agree.
The second is harder, since at least three of the proposals—the benefits change, an opt-out from ever closer union and a mechanism to safeguard non-euro members—could require a new treaty to guarantee their effectiveness. There may be scope for a legal fudge that stops short of full treaty change, similar to protocols adopted in the past to satisfy Danish and Irish demands after their voters rejected previous treaties. Or there could be a “post-dated cheque”: a promise to incorporate changes into the EU treaties whenever they are next revised, for instance if a new country joins the club.
The third question is the biggest unknown. But Mr Cameron is gambling that, fresh from his unexpected election victory, he can persuade voters that it is better to have the devil they know than the devil they don’t. After all, a similar tactic favouring the status quo worked in the Scottish independence referendum last September—but it was a close-run thing.
England must look beyond vulgar economics and celebrate the EU as a zone of peace not just a lucrative market. It must lift the referendum debate beyond cost-benefit analysis to matters of principle. Exit need not be a disaster, true, but even the faint prospect of net economic loss will chill the blood of the undecided.
The EU represents not just an economic bloc but also offers multiple opportunities for study, research, culture and retirement. Moreover, it operates to secure peace within Europe and is a force for projecting a European view into the world polity.
If it end up option out a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU would be a joke. Plenty of bigger economies don’t have an FTA with the EU.
Anyway, it’s also the terms that matter: not all FTAs are the same. As regards time frames, the EU deals with Singapore and South Korea took several years to negotiate: these kinds of arrangements are incredibly complicated. What happens in the meantime? The out lobbyist don’t say because they don’t know.
I would place my stake on the public voting to remain in the club.
If the British people are to be asked to vote for EU exit they deserve to be given a proper explanation of what happens next.